Last week was a dark week despite the continual blasting of heat from the sun and bright blue skies, but that’s part of the problem isn’t? If you’re not frying like an egg in one part of the planet, you might be wondering if you have the aptitude for boat building. I couldn’t find any positive environmental-related news last week. Instead, it ended up a long session of what kids these days call “Doom Scrolling.”
Each article making me more angry, sad and frustrated. I’ve always operated in a morally gray area. If you take a psychology class chances are you’ve encountered “the Trolley Problem.” In short, you’re standing at the track switch and you see an out of control trolley going towards five people who are tied up and can’t move. If you flip the switch you can save them, but you’ll kill one person on the other track.
I’ve always been trained to do the most amount of good with the least amount of damage. I would flip the switch, but I’d also make a run of that one person. We don’t have details on how fast the trolley is going or how far you are, but I’d try to make a run for it anyways. If nothing else, I would serve as a distraction, maybe that helps? Maybe I do get to the person in time and get them completely or mostly off the track. If they lose their leg(s), but keep their life I’d still call that a win. Honestly, this question could have many more variable factors in it, I suggest you not think about it too long unless you’re aiming for a truly depressive state of mind. So why am I bringing it up?
Because maybe if we maintained the flippin’ trolley in the first place we wouldn’t be put in such a moral dilemma! The trolley is our planet. We are already standing at the switch and the track is the degree to which we let human-caused emissions raise the global temperature. We do not all have an equal amount of leverage though. Developed Nations have more leverage, Corporations have more leverage and the Ultra-Rich have more leverage.
We are all beholden to them on if they choose to act on climate change, how they choose to act on climate change and when and how fast they do it. I don’t like them having so much leverage. Do you? I feel that some of these people are so incompetent they’d have such an uncontrolled, oversized trolley taking out all six people and a couple of puppies and kittens to boot!
WHAT CAN WE DO!
We need to pull out our wrenches and chocks (wedges used to prevent vehicles from moving) and get to work. We need to change the system, disrupt the system. Peacefully and strategically. The Ultra-Rich think they can buy up mansions in places like New Zealand and other believed-to-be “climate Havens”, we need to give them some smelling salt to wake the fluff up! There is no safe place from a seriously angry planet.
Money talks, that’s why the Ultra-Rich and everyone else is so keen to hold onto it. So, it was a brilliant maneuver when the activist hedge fund, Engine No.1, secured three seats on Exxon Mobil’s board of directors. First, they had to have enough capital and stakeholder assets to be qualified to make the board. This required convincing a few key stakeholders to back them up, BlackRock and the California State Teacher’s Retirement System. While holding three seats on the board doesn’t give them majority rule on what the oil giant does, they do have an opportunity to present proposals and lean into the idea of working towards renewable energy services.
It’s unfathomable how many opportunities we’ve missed to improve the energy and technology sectors over the decades due to gross misuse of anti-competitive practices within these and other key industries. Certain companies have been buying up patents and smaller “asset companies” for years only to bury them deep in the dark recesses of filing cabinets. Why? Because the patent or intellectual property of that company threatened the profitability of a mega corporation that wasn’t interested in changing its business practices. I can’t give you names or evidence here, because this kind of information gets carefully scrubbed from search engines and this humble web keeper doesn’t have the resources to go picking fights with C Corps right now. 404 – Files not Found.
Activism How do you define Activism? Holding up a sign in protest is only one form of activism. Other ways include using your purchasing power to support companies and organizations that make a commitment to the things you believe in. It can be writing to a company to tell them you like and support their sustainability issues and that you, as a customer, are taking notice. You can also write to companies you won’t support and tell them, why you don’t support them (ie wasteful packaging, high CO2 output.)
Hacktivism You’ve heard of computer hackers and life hacks. Hacking in itself isn’t a bad thing. There used to be a distinction between “Hackers” and “Crackers.” Crackers are typically “the black hats” that want to steal your money or information for takedowns and sabotage. Hackers are testers, they want to find out how things works or test their skills. A “White hat” hacker will find exploits and notifies the appropriate person so it can be fixed. Anyone at any age can be a hacker. Don’t let Hollywood fool you into thinking its just lonely, acne-infested, teenage boys. My Grandma would have been a great hacker! So what’s hacktivism? The “Trolley problem” above as an example: The cracker steals the wheels of the trolley. The Hacker figures out how the trolley works. The White hat Hacker figures out how the trolley works, see that the brake is broken and notify the appropriate authorities. If the hacker also like knots, maybe they could go down and untie those people on the tracks while they’re at it!
Activist Investors Let your money do the talking. Move your assets into ESG (Environmental, Social Governmental) funds or active Sustainability funds. You choose whether to be an active or passive investor. There are a lot of online resources and most of the biggest investment firms now have some sort of ESG portfolio to varying degrees.
I just bought a book fresh of the press that has me really excited about doing this. I’m only in the first chapter so far. Let me know in the comments if you want a book review when I’ve completed it. It’s called “Activate Your Money: Invest to Grow Your Wealth And Build A Better World By Janine Firpo”
How the Economy Has to Radically Transform to End Fossil Fuels in 20 Years (vice.com) or
The U.N. IPCC climate change report is bleak but hopeful. (slate.com)
Exxon Mobil Defeated by Activist Investor Engine No. 1 – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
Secret IRS Files Reveal How Much the Ultrawealthy Gained by Shaping Trump’s “Big, Beautiful Tax Cut” — ProPublica
There’s No Such Thing as a ‘Climate Haven’ – Bloomberg
Yes, the ultra-rich are still buying NZ$80m homes (in case you were wondering) | Stuff.co.nz (May 8,2020)
Silicon Valley Moguls Buying $8 Million Doomsday Bunkers in New Zealand (businessinsider.com) (Sep 6, 2018)
Anti-competitive practices – Wikipedia
How Google Search Results Are Being Manipulated By Shady Online Reputation Consultants (buzzfeednews.com)
11 thoughts on “How to Save Our Asses in Short Order: Activism, Hacktivism and Activist Investors”
Oh boy, Melanie, you’ve hit the nail on the head. I shall re-read this excellent post and in the meantime here is a link to something you might find of interest:
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Good article, Ashley! This sentence in particular says a lot; “It grants the police powers to shut down protests on grounds defined so vaguely – including causing “serious unease” to bystanders – that they could apply to any public expression of dissent.”
During the BLM protests in the US they too tried to manipulate the laws to shut them down. There were peaceful protests labeled as “riots” to justify police using excessive force. At least here in the PNW, this only caused more people to come out to protest because they saw the injustices being done. Then small groups arrive, stirring stuff up starting fires, causing damage, creating good photo ops and video clip for media consumption to show how “evil” these protesters are. If that’s not enough, there’s always photoshop. I know its alarming to see a person wander about in broad daylight with a gun, but WA state is an “Open carry” state which means its legal. The Governor amended the law so that open carry was no longer legal on Capitol grounds only. Gee, Thanks Gov. I guess asking by a vote of the people if we want to continue being an open carry state is too much to ask. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/fox-news-runs-digitally-altered-images-in-coverage-of-seattles-protests-capitol-hill-autonomous-zone/
Oh my goodness, Melanie. You have given us another heavy load to think about. We already have the downers of the Afghanistan pullout, Haitian earthquakes and assassinations, tropical storms, Covid with anti-vaxxers & anti-maskers, forest fires devouring acres and sending smoke pouring across the US, Blue v. Red politics, and now this. My brain and my spirit are numb from it all. I can’t even watch the TV news without getting depressed. I salute you for your energy in tackling the tough subjects, but most of us just don’t have your energy. May you stay strong and best of luck to you!
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I know Lisa, I know. That’s why its called “Doom Scrolling” when the news story are just one terrible thing after another. This is also why I didn’t post last week except the wolf pictures. So I could process how I wanted to approach this weeks topic. Humor helps us survive. I’m absolutely disgusted by how things went down in Afghanistan. There is also a fire currently threatening my father and stepmom’s home, the one I mentioned in “Firestorm, 1991” I’m driving over in a couple days. I’d drag him out kicking and cursing if I have too.
Good luck dragging your family away from the fire that is threatening them, and thanks for the reminder that humor helps us survive. You are a beacon of hope!
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Thank you, Lisa! Your comment means a lot to me!
Hello! Thank you for your concern about climate change and human behaviour. I have carefully read and enjoyed your post, which contains a few typos as follows:
There are three instances of the indefinite article “an” being misspelt as “and”:
(1) “frying like and egg”
(2) “you see and out of control trolley”
I noticed a third one but then lost sight of it.
Thank you for liking one of my posts and my “About” page. Given your interests, you will be pleased to know that I have quite a number of posts regarding the environment as well as animals and plants.
My blog is best viewed in situ (not via WordPress Reader) on a desktop or laptop computer with a large screen, given that it contains intricate graphical designs and animations as well as advanced styling and multimedia components plus animations, which are mostly invisible in the WordPress Reader.
You are certainly very welcome to indulge me with your thoughts and insights at the comment section of the said post, for I am very keen and curious to know what you make of it.
I am quite impressed by your dedication to your blog.
Thank you SoundEagle. I will go back and fix the spelling errors mentioned. Thank you for taking the time to come over and have a look around!
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I applaud you for wading so deeply into all this, Melanie. I admit to taking a temporary retrieve from reality. #CapitalismKills
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Thank you, Tracy! I agree with your hashtag. I try to find a balance in all things without giving up on the harder issues at hand.
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That’s a very healthy approach and one I’m working on. Still a loooong way to go, unfortunately. I appreciate your efforts very much, Melanie.